Thanks to JoeDemocrat for pointing me to this article in the Huffington Post by our friend, great American, and fellow Kossack Wendell Potter, How Obama and the Democrats Got Played by the Insurance Industry on the Mandate.
As Wendell explains, last week, Ron Williams the former CEO of Aetna penned a screed in the Wall Street Journal, Why I no Longer Support the Health Insurance Mandate (it's behind the firewall) withdrawing his support for this rather significant piece of the Affordable Care Act.
Et tu, Ron?
Aetna ex-CEO Williams is channeling Clarence Thomas:
As President Obama read former Aetna CEO Ron Williams' op-ed in the Wall Street Journal renouncing his support for a key provision of the health care reform law, he must have felt like Julius Caesar when Caesar realized, as he drew his last breath, that his close friend Brutus was in cahoots with his assassins.
Williams' betrayal appeared in last Monday's edition of the Journal under the headline, "Why I No Longer Support the Health Insurance Mandate." The fact that it was published just days before the Supreme Court was expected to rule on the constitutionality of the mandate made it clear that Williams was not the trusted advisor the President thought he was, that, like Brutus, Williams had thrown his lot with those plotting against the commander-in-chief.
In an opinion article published in The Wall Street Journal entitled "Why I No Longer Support the Health Insurance Mandate," Ron Williams, Aetna's former chairman and chief executive, said he now believes "the legislation raises serious constitutional concerns."
"Most seriously, Congress insisted on describing personal inactivity -- in this case, the failure to purchase insurance -- as interstate commerce within its regulatory reach," Williams wrote in the piece. "Americans were alarmed, rightly, that this could empower future legislatures to mandate that citizens engage in activities none of us would think reasonable today."
. . .Williams concluded the mandate "will not be upheld."
As Wendell says, if only the mandate is killed, the insurance industry is ready to go into action to kill all consumer protections.
Williams' op-ed would never have appeared in the Journal if industry leaders weren't nervous about what the high court will do. Their worst fear is that the mandate will be struck down but the rest of the law will be allowed to go forward. Knowing they can't rely on Obama and the Democrats to get rid of the new regulations and consumer protections under that scenario -- they've tried without much success so far -- they will need to help flip the White House and the Senate to Republican control to be certain the job gets done.
Williams' real audience for that op-ed was Republican lawmakers and kingmakers. It was a signal to the GOP that the industry's brief and often rocky affair with Obama is over and done with, that they were just playing the Democrats all along.
You can count on "Harry and Louise" industry ads to begin almost immediately warning Americans that their rates are going to go through the roof, if insurers are required to cover everyone. Most informed observers believe the penalty in the mandate wasn't even a slap on the wrist, and that the subsidies will be incentive enough to get people to buy the very defective private insurance even without a mandate.
For AHIP and those it represents, this is a perilous course, because it rekindles the grotesque reality that the United States is being brought to its knees by the political imperative (campaign contributions, pay to play in U.S. politics) to leave the for-profit insurance industry imbedded into the heart of our healthcare system.
As an aside, it's been brought to my attention, that the current Aetna CEO, Mark Bertolini is the father to a young child diagnosed with leukemia.
Mr. Bertolini should feel considerable shame (but undoubtedly doesn't), that his company seeks to deny healthcare to millions of Americans also needing treatment due to a cancer diagnosis. His son lives, but his neighbor's child, without insurance, dies.
God help this benighted country.